A NEW museum could be coming to Winchester as part of a major regeneration project, it has been revealed.

The new site is being looked into by Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT), the organisation that looks after the county’s historical and cultural artifacts, and would celebrate the city’s Anglo-Saxon heritage.

It would follow any archaeological work carried out under the city council’s Silver Hill 2 scheme, officially known as the Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) project.

A spokesman for HCT told the Hampshire Chronicle: “Winchester is one of our finest English cities. It is the ancient capital of England established by King Alfred as the centre of his kingdom of Wessex. It is where the creation of Anglo-Saxon England began.

“This story of England’s lost capital is one of international importance that needs to be told and celebrated.

“Our intention is to connect Winchester’s outstanding heritage offer and create a new immersive museum experience where stories come together and are brought to life for the community and the many tourists who come to our city.

“The excavated archaeology and that which remains hidden underneath the city streets are the most important elements of this story. The proposed new museum provides us with the opportunity to reveal and share this with everyone.

“Our aim is to undertake a professionally run archaeological excavation during construction which will involve local communities, schools and universities across the city.”

The subject of archaeology has been a hotly debated topic within the wider regeneration scheme.

As previously reported, a row broke out in the spring following the release of a report from the newly formed Archaeology Advisory Panel.

The report advised against digging in the city centre due to the risk of damaging historically important material.

The report was defended by panel chairman and renowned expert Prof Martin Biddle, who said suggestions of digging up the area “impractical and ill-informed”.

After its release, nearly 120 people, including city councillor Kim Gottlieb and General Sir Antony Walker, chairman of the Winchester Deserves Better campaign, signed a letter calling for the site’s archaeology to be “properly excavated and evaluated”.

Details of the possible new museum are few and far between due to the early stage of the proposal, which was revealed to the Chronicle by city council leader Caroline Horrill.

Cllr Horrill confirmed the museum would be based in the CWR area, adding: “We will be supporting a museum on the site.”

That’s despite the River Park Leisure Centre site becoming available for development within the next few years. It had previously been suggested that the site could have a cultural use, whether that be an arts venue or museum, when the new leisure centre is built in Bar End.

The CWR area covers 4.5 hectares of land at the bottom of High Street and encompasses Upper Brook Street to the west, Friarsgate and Middle Brook Street car park to the North, St John’s Almshouses and Lower Brook stream to the east and the Broadway and lower High Street to the south.

A spokesman for HCT confirmed the city’s existing museums, such as the City Museum on The Square, the oldest purpose-built museum in the country, would not be impacted.